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Part I: Matrix

 

What is the group’s history in the United States?

What is the group’s population in the United States?

What are some attitudes and customs people of this group may practice?

What is something you admire about this group’s people, lifestyle, or society?

1. Native Americans

First Native Americans appeared on the territory of the USA many centuries before the European colonization. They lived in different societies and differed in cultures, lifestyles, and even languages. However, there were many common elements such as complex structures of society, collective decision-making, communal stewardship of resources, and visionary spiritual tradition.

In the late 16th century, when the Spanish conquerors came to these lands, they enslaved indigenous people. Later in 1630s, other Europeans began to invade the land inhabited by Native Americans, imposing a new religion and traditions, and bringing many new diseases. Smallpox, influenza, and other diseases wiped out a great number of Natives. What is more, many indigenous people were forced off their land and were manipulated in colonial wars.

After independence and until 1975, the government worked out many paternalistic programs, trying to eradicate the Indian Problem and promoting assimilation. In the 19th century, Native Americans were herded to so-called reservations where they were to live. The way to the reservation was difficult, and many people died without reaching them. Because of this fact, the general number of Native Americans reduced.

Only in 1924 when the Indian Citizenship Act was passed, Native Americans were called the citizens of the USA. In 1934, it was supported by the Indian Reorganization Act (Nies, 2012).

Nowadays, nearly 5 million Native Americans live in the USA. This is 1,6 % of the country’s population. According to the data of 2009, the majority of Indians live in California, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Los Angeles is the city with the largest population of Native Americans. Among the biggest tribes are Cherokee, Navajo, Sioux, and Ojibwa people.

 

Among the characteristic features of Native American culture are vitality and variety. They experienced both struggle and triumph, and their culture and history definitely influenced the life of the present day America greatly.

Natives believed that animals were spirits and that even after death they lived in the souls of people. They used animals’ skin for clothes, and never wasted the meat. People believed that sun and rain were the gods. Other integral parts of the indigenous peoples’ lives were totem poles, dream catchers, smoke signals, teepee, peace pipes, and moccasins.

 

 

Personally, I liked the way in which the society of Native Americans had been organized before the colonists came. The principles of society resemble those of democracy. Besides, I admire the strong will of this minority group and their patience on the way to recognition.

2. African Americans

African Americans are the second largest minority group in the USA. The history of forced immigration to the territory of the USA was very cruel. It is believed, that the attitude to black slaves brought to Northern America from Africa was the most dehumanized and de-cultured one. The slaves endured humiliation in slavery, its abolition, segregation and then desegregation, access to higher education and public schools, protests, and many other problems. However, nowadays African Americans are among the most important nationwide minority groups, and US’ vitality is credited precisely to them. At the same time, many “people of color” live in poor conditions and face discrimination due to existing stereotypes and prejudice.

Apart from slaves and their descendants, there are those African Americans, who came to the USA form Somalia, Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, and other countries searching for freedom from wars, better economic conditions, and employment opportunities (Hine, Hine & Harrold, 2009).

Nowadays African Americans make up nearly 13% of the population of the US. It is the second largest minority group as it numbers 40 million people. Among the cities with large African American population are Newark, St. Louis, Atlanta, Detroit, Baltimore, and others.

 

 

The attitudes and customs that can be practiced by African Americans are complex. They are rooted in the beliefs of Africans. For many years, African Americans had been suffering from racism, different forms of which can be found even today. It goes without saying that the attitude of other ethnicities towards people with dark skin influences their behavior greatly. Putting the existing stereotypes aside, African Americans are very hard-working and patient. They are responsible and optimistic. African Americans tend to be good at playing ragtime and performing rap music. Generally, music plays important role in the understanding of their lifestyle. It is interesting that music associated with African Americans resembles the beats of African drum.

 

I like the music performed by African Americans and all the positive traits of character that form positive stereotypes about this minority group.

3. Mexican Americans

In the 16th century, many Mexicans settled in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California to ranch and farm. The lands near the border were granted to settlers by the Mexican government. However, the Texas annexation and capture of the rest of the south-west in the Mexican-American War made Mexican Americans become a minority in their own lands. Despite this fact, the relations within community remained almost unchanged. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Mexican revolution brought many immigrants. After the Second World War, rural Mexicans tried taking the advantage of industrial jobs in the cities. They founded the so-called barrios within the cities. While the relations within society and family were good, Mexican Americans suffered from rivalries and undermined political unity.

Mexican American identity has changed in recent years. During the last century, they have campaigned for equal voting rights, educational and employment opportunities, and economic advancement. In the 1960s, many Mexican Americans took part in the Chicano movement, getting tied up with disagreement over whether to become a part of the mainstream American culture or remain separate (Sanchez, 1995).

Nowadays, the minority group of Mexican Americans makes up approximately 11% of the US’ population. The figures show that there are over 33,5 Americans with Mexican ancestry. Besides, Mexican Americans make up the majority of all Latinos and Hispanics in the USA.

 

As the Hispanic community is the largest minority in the USA, it is necessary to understand the peculiarities of Mexican Americans’ style of communication, attitude towards life and education. It is interesting, that Mexican Americans follow all family traditions and consider the father to be the head of the family. Besides, during conversation, they stand very close to each other. Mexican Americans do not shake hands for greeting. When they speak to unfamiliar people for the first time, they usually ask about family and expect such a question in return. Mexican Americans respect each other and make friends easily.

 

I like the customs and traditions of Mexican Americans and their attitudes towards parents and friends. They usually look self-aware and confident.

4.Arab (Muslim) Americans

People from the Arabic countries arrived to the US in three waves. The first wave took place in 1890 and 1920 when more than 250 thousand people came from Greater Syria. The majority of immigrants were Christian peasants who sought for better economic condition. The next wave came after the Second World War and the creation of Israel. Thousands of Palestinians entered the USA. Finally, after 1965, there was the last wave of immigration, numbering more than 250 thousand people. The last two waves brought highly educated Muslims. Besides, the immigrants from the Arab-speaking countries influenced the development of Islam in the US. For instance, in the early 50s, many Muslim physicians and other professionals arrived to America after their studies, as they found the conditions here more hospitable. This period coincided with the period of the black movements in America, and it was precisely the one which saw the creation of the first Muslim communities in many states including Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, California, and others. Thus, Islam began to gain new adherents among Americans. During this period, Muslims formed several national Islamic groups in the United States (for example, the Muslim Students Association of the US and Canada) and their supporting institutions and held numerous national and regional conferences (Kayyali, 2005).

In the 2000 US Census, more than 1 million Americans reported Arab ancestry. It is believed that the actual number of this minority group is approximately 3,5 million. Among the largest groupings are Lebanese, Egyptian, and Syrian, followed by Palestinian, Jordanian, Moroccan. 45% of American Arabs were native US citizens, and 54% were born abroad.

 

As the majority of Arabs in the USA are Muslims, their behavior is influenced by their faith. The main belief of Muslims is that there is only one God, who is the all-powerful Creator of an ordered universe. One of the key roles in Islam plays the issue of women. Primarily, all women are mothers, and it is the role of a mother that gives a woman the highest respect after God. People, who do not respect their mothers, are considered to be the worst of sinners. Secondly, the woman is a wife and a companion to a man in all aspects of life.

Although women have to wear hijab, today they replace it with various headscarves and other things. In the USA, for example, the majority of women who follow Islam do not wear hijab.

 

The serious attitude to faith, women, life, education, and other essential things are worth admiring. Besides, I like some of Arab Americans’ traditions and customs, which they brought with them from their countries of origin.

5.Asian-Pacific Americans

The first wave of the immigration occurred in 1840s when young Asian men were recruited as cheap manual labor. Many of them worked on plantations or as miners, workers on the railroad, fishers, and so on. They settled in California and neighboring states. Many Asian-Pacific Americans founded their small businesses. The first immigrants faced typical immigration problems such as inadequate working conditions, segregation, and deprivation of civil rights. In the years to come, the Japanese and Filipino populations continued to grow. During the Second World War, many Japanese Americans were considered spies, and thus suffered from it greatly. However, other Asian Pacific communities felt free as their countries were allied with the United States. Later in 80s and 90s, Asian people came to the USA for study and work (Chan, 1991).

Asian Pacific Americans are the second fastest growing minority group in the USA. According to the latest data, there are 14 million of Asian Americans, among which there are the Chinese, Asian Indians, Japanese, Koreans, and other ethnicities.

 

 

Asian-Pacific Americans respect the traditions and customs of their ancestors. Besides, they are very hard-working and tend to work in offices, at the factories, as managers and leaders. They respect each other. Asian-Pacific Americans follow the family traditions thoroughly.

I like the Asian-Pacific Americans’ attitude towards work and their respect for duty and tradition.

6. German Americans

 German immigrants had many reasons for leaving their country: religious repression, unfavorable political and economic conditions, and a great desire to live independently and happily.

German people experienced a hard fate of immigrants. The first large group of immigrants from Germany came to America in 1683. It consisted of thirteen families, the members of which eventually founded their own community and called it Germantown. Later, Germans came looking for poverty-free and tolerant religious life or seeking relief from famine (Handlin, 1959, p.25). A great number of Germans entered the New World during the colonial times. Starting from 1790, the immigration slowed and renewed only after the Napoleonic Wars. At the beginning of the19th century, the majority of immigrants were young males.

The second wave of immigration took place in 1850-1860. At this time, nearly one million Germans came to America, and they were very active and enthusiastic writing letters to their relatives about the free society and fertile land. Such information, as well as the worsening situation in Germany, led to the arrival of more immigrants. The final peak of immigration was in the 1880s, when the Catholics sought refuge from the cultural struggle, launched by Otto Van Bismarck. Between the 1890 and 1930 (not including the time of the World War I), many industrial workers came to the USA from Germany. Many people, who looked for better employment opportunities, left their families with the intention to return after a while. Thus, in three centuries since the foundation of the first German settlement in America, seven-million German-speaking people entered the New World (Tolzmann, 2006).

Nowadays, they form the largest ethnic group in the American population, as it numbers approximately 50 million people.

As well as the representatives of other minority groups, German Americans respect the country of their origin and share its traditions and customs. In most American German families, people celebrate German holidays and keep in touch with their relatives in Germany, if there are any.

German people faced many problems both in Germany and while immigrating to the USA, and their strong will is definitely worth admiring.

Part II:

Analysis

America is well-known for being the destination point for thousands of immigrants from all over the world. Every ethnicity that entered the USA left its country searching for better living and working conditions. However, the immigrants faced many problems on their way to the new life. There were several waves of immigration, namely, during the colonial era, in the period after the Civil War, and since the early 1940s.

Every ethnicity that is present in the USA influences the mainstream culture in this or that way. As a result, all the cultures that penetrate to the United States construct the nation, and, at the same time, they influence the groups’ identity. All minority groups, including the six groups under analysis, have their characteristic features which eventually become stereotypes. The process of stereotyping is typical for multicultural society. Stereotypes, in their turn, can be either good or bad. For instance, African Americans are associated with slavery, and this is the example of stereotype that will be difficult to get rid of. Another example of stereotype about the minority group is the view of Native Americans as rude and uneducated. Asian Americans seem to be hard-working and devoted. Of course, the behavior and thinking patterns influence our attitude towards others and make us prejudge people. The idea of multiculturalism teaches us to ignore stereotypes and treat all people equally as existing stereotypes are usually negative and distort the perception of others.

The stereotypes usually appear when we deal with people of other cultures and lifestyles. One of the most influential factors that rule our perception of others is race. This concept is related, for example, to African Americans or Asian Americans.

The American population is officially divided into Whites, African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Latinos (Bennett, 2010). The American population is diverse, and each day, we meet hundreds of people belonging to different groups and cultures. People say that all these groups were “invented” to make life easier and more meaningful, but I think that the categorization, on the contrary, complicates the reality. Life would be much easier if we did not mind the skin of color and shape of eyes and if we considered everyone equally. Multicultural education is important because it may lead the society to such state when people realize their belonging to one culture.

Summing up, living in multicultural country is not easy. Every citizen of the pluralistic society has to realize that all people belong to one human race and each person has equal rights. Nowadays, the population of the USA is diverse; hence, people are taught the basics of multiculturalism since the understanding of other cultures is the integral part of effective and successful communication.

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